AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS with Kate Bornstein, Sheila Cunningham, Miss Major, & Jay Toole
Streetwise and Safe, Miss Major-Jay Toole Building for Social Justice, NYC
This community, open forum event brought together trans, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming folks from across generations, along with allies, to discuss and celebrate AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS.
Amidst ongoing violence and increased visibility for the trans community is the truth of the importance of trans lives. Often missing in conversations between both the great heights of visibility and the epic lows of violence and neglect are trans and gender non-conforming folks who have lived long, storied and rich lives. Presented by Visual AIDS and the NYC Trans Oral History Project, AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS was centered around the lives and stories of four gender non-conforming folks who have aged resiliently: Kate Bornstein, Sheila Cunningham, Miss Major, and Jay Toole. The event, moderated by Reina Gossett, was an opportunity to hear experiences, stories, and insights from multiple generations of people from across the gender spectrum. The event featured a special performance by electronic musical artist Mizz June.
AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS was inspired by the art, activism, and life of Chloe Dzubilo, who passed away in 2011. Although Chloe is no longer with us, it is clear to those who love her and the organizers of this event that she would be among the growing intergenerational dialogue of trans lives and legacies.
AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS was coordinated in conjunction with the second publication of Visual AIDS' DUETS series, Che Gossett & Alice O'Malley in Conversation on Chloe Dzubilo (2014), which features a conversation between Che Gossett and Alice O'Malley about the art, activism and life of Chloe Dzubilo. DUETS is a series of publications that pairs artists, activists, writers, and thinkers in dialogues about their creative practices and current social issues around HIV/AIDS.
The NYC Trans Oral History Project is a community archive devoted to the collection, preservation and sharing of trans histories.
This program was supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.
KATE BORNSTEIN is a world renowned transgender activist, author, playwright, performance artist, blogger and educator who focus on issues of gender and sexuality. Her books "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us" and "My Gender Workbook" are essential reading in gender, queer and feminist studies. Kate's books are taught in five languages in over 200 colleges and universities around the world. She lives in New York City with her girlfriend, three cats, two dogs, and one turtle, in whose company she wrote her new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today. For more info on Kate Bornstein: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/
MISS MAJOR GRIFFIN-GRACY, for over 40 years, has been an activist, instigator, and community organizer. From the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion to her current work with the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, Miss Major has worked tirelessly for social justice and the human rights of transgender women of color. She identifies as a father, mother, grandmother, and grandfather to her own children, and to many in the transgender community. Miss Major has spoken around the world about concerns of transwomen of color in the prison industrial complex. Her life and campaigns are currently the focus of a feature length documentary film, which will be released in 2015. For more information visit http://www.tgijp.org and http://www.missmajorfilm.com
JAY TOOLE is a 67 year-old butch identified (well superbutch identified) lesbian who battled addiction for 37 years, during which time she was homeless for over 25 years, and often lived on and under the streets of NYC and in the NYC shelters. In 1999, she got her GED, she began volunteering with The Coalition for the Homeless as a shelter Monitor. In November of 2000 she left the shelter system for her first ever apartment in her own name. Since 2001 she has graduated from The Resource Training Center to become a alcohol and substance abuse counselor with a award and prize for leadership in education, worked part-time as an out-reach worker to the shelter system on recovery issues at the LGBT Community Center. In 2006 she received the Richard L. Schiegel National Legion of Honor Award for Emerging Activist. In 2011, Jay was honored for her service to the transgender community by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. She is a Co-Founder of Queers for Economic Justice and was the Shelter Project Director for over 14 years and now is the founder of Jay's House. In 2014 Jay was honored by Camba (one of NYC largest homeless providers) for her continued work to make shelters safer for queer adult homeless.
REINA GOSSETT (moderator) is a activist, writer, and artist. As the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project from 2010 to 2014, Reina worked to lift the voice and power of trans and gender non conforming people. Prior to joining the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Reina worked at Queers for Economic Justice where she directed the Welfare Organizing Project and produced A Fabulous Attitude, which documents low-income LGBT New Yorkers surviving inequality and thriving despite enormous obstacles. Together with Sasha Wortzel she wrote and directed Happy Birthday Marsha about Marsha P Johnson in the hours leading up to Stonewall.
Event Photographs by Maia Paroginog unless otherwise indicated.